Charlotte Swanson’s a model, or was before the auto accident that smashed her face. The eighty-screw repair surgery changes her looks, and the recovery time leaves her stranded in the midwestern home town from which she worked so hard escape many years earlier. Now, the model who’s meal ticket is the same as the book’s title, Look At Me, worries that the new look is unmarketable. I’ll leave that part of the plot there for fear of spoilage if I reveal more. Suffice it to say that the action is mostly exciting.
Jennifer Egan’s prose is often as good as it gets. Her description of Swanson’s alcohol high as a spinning ball of light, for example, is nothing short of inspired. There are other passages as well that make the book worth reading all in itself.
However, to my mind, we spend too much time with Charlotte alone in her apartment, with her bottle, and with her depression. It slows the narrative and makes the action sag. Not much of a complaint, I suppose, but I think it kept a good book from becoming excellent.